The Man Who Knew Too Much Review


Whenever you know too much it can be tricky. Knowledge is hidden away for a reason after all and when you find out what it is, you’ve just put yourself in a whole lot of danger. It’s something that the lead characters learn quickly here although it’s not knowledge that they tried to learn so you can’t blame them. It’s a pretty solid suspense thriller with a surprisingly action packed climax.

The movie starts with Bob and Jill enjoying a nice vacation with their daughter Betty. Unfortunately Betty does wreck Jill’s chances of winning a shootout though by causing a lot of noise and distractions. She was goaded on by another character but it was still a tragic way to start the day. Bob and Jill head back in to have a good time but then a mysterious person they didn’t know very well hands Bob a letter and quickly gets murdered. Bob is about to tell the police about this when he reads the letter and sees that it’s a threat. If he tells anyone what he knows then Betty will die.

Bob confirms that Betty is gone and so this threat cannot be taken lightly. Bob needs to find these guys and fast so he heads out with Clive. The reason for urgency is that the cops are slowly gaining ground on the villains as well and if they do catch them, the antagonists may believe that Bob spilled the beans and take out Betty. The heroes will have to go to some dangerous places and dark alleys to find them. Meanwhile Jill has to do her best to stop another assassination attempt from taking place.

There’s a lot going on here which is something you always want to be able to stay about a thriller. Bob goes to different places from street corners to dentists to corrupt churches. In the dentist scene I was impressed with how he turned the situation around. Usually when the villain grabs their tube and starts to hit you with the knockout gas, the character will immediately fall to the ground and have no tolerance for the stuff. It’s not a very impressive look for them but Bob was able to rip it off and take the villain down. Now that was impressive.

In general I thought Bob was very good. He did a lot of the legwork in trying to find Betty and put himself in peril many times. He didn’t crumble under the pressure and kept a cool head about everything. His partner Clive also deserves a lot of credit for sticking with him on the adventures. He had a particularly rough time at the dentist’s office and was still able to keep it moving. He was certainly a loyal companion.

Meanwhile you also have Jill doing her best to handle this. We saw in the opening scene that she is good with a gun so the whole time you’re waiting for the payoff on this. Fortunately it does arrive and as the film’s climax is a giant shootout, that makes sense. This way each character got to contribute which was good. Only Betty didn’t I suppose but as a kid there’s not a whole lot she could do. The villains treated her pretty well at least so the experience wasn’t too traumatic.

The climax was extremely explosive though which is still surprising. The villains decide that they won’t go out without a fight and the nonstop shooting between the heroes and villains commences. The police didn’t look very impressive with their counter strategies though. If you see that your guys are going down one after the other you should probably rethink your strategy of plunging forward. They don’t and so by the end of the film a few villains have managed to take down almost 2 dozen cops. That was pretty crazy and I wish we had seen more tactics.

The main villain here is Abbott who looks shifty from the start. I think it’s safe to say that you’ll figure he is the villain almost as soon as he appears. You have the sinister music/atmosphere when he shows up and there aren’t a whole lot of other suspects anyway. Abbott does make for a good villain though. He seems a little insane but that’s not surprising for a villain like this. He’s the brains of the operation and the rest of the villains are fairly expendable to him. He made it pretty far in this plan.

The only character who didn’t seem to have much of a clue the whole time was Louis. I dunno, I suppose the whole thing wasn’t his fault since he had a mission to achieve but it felt like he didn’t act too cautiously. You’d never know that he was a professional agent with the risks he took. The guy thought he was James Bond with how he would party and hang out. I’m mixed on him since a decent amount of that may have been his cover. If he could have taken a few villains down before going out that would have helped.

The film is very strong all around though. The characters are good and the script is really solid. I’ve probably said this a thousand times but I love the good banter in the old school titles with the heroes and villains. There’s always a very fake polite type dialogue going on between them. If you read the text through an emotionless machine you could think the characters were friends but it’s all in how they talk to each other. The pacing is on point as well.

Overall, The Man Who Knew Too Much is a solid thriller. It is pretty tense with the child being kidnapped and all. We also get some rather atmospheric locations like the fake church. The characters balancing their attempts to save their kid while also being subtle or they will put her in more danger was effective. The cops also looked decent here as they were beginning to find Abbott, I just wish they had looked better in the climax. There’s no scenario where running into a stronghold filled with guns is a good idea without some kind of cover. You gotta be ready to adjust and then fight back.

Overall 7/10

God of Highschool Review


It’s time for another Webtoon adaption. The God of Highschool got a ton of promotion back in the day. I dare say that from the 3 Crunchyroll productions they gave this one the most publicity by far. It’s a tournament with a ton of action so what’s not to love right? Well, after seeing it I can definitely say it’s a great title. I did have a bit of an issue with the art style but the animation itself was great without a doubt.

The show starts with some politicians making a deal only for the entire island to literally be slammed with a giant hand and those guys are murdered. With nobody left in the way, a tournament is announced called the God of High School. If you win this tournament then you will get whatever you wish for. Anyone can enter it as long as they’re in High School so people flock to the tournament from all over. Winning this will take skill but these characters are ready. Still, the whole situation is rather sketchy…is there more to this tournament than meets the eye?

The God of High School is a show that goes fast and doesn’t mess around so you really have to make sure you keep up. You can probably identify moments where there are scenes that would be skipped to make the pacing work better but you always get the key details. I haven’t read the Webtoon yet although I plan to do that shortly. So I can say with confidence that even without reading the source material you’ll be able to keep up.

The last few episodes are also the best ones in the season so this really ends on a high note. You’ll absolutely be hyped for season 2 by the time you’re done with this one. It almost feels like they would need to change the name soon though since it seems like it won’t really be relevant to the next season. I guess if you think of the title as being a title in universe as opposed to referring to the tournament then it works out pretty well though.

Since I mentioned the art style lets knock that out now. The thing I didn’t like is how everyone’s nose and ears are always shining bright red as if this is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. I haven’t seen a show do that before. The closest I can think of is the permanent anime blush in shows like Accel World. I dislike that art style as well, I dunno it just doesn’t seem natural and it can be a bit distracting.

It takes away from the visuals in general. Interestingly, I quickly took a look at the original trailer for the show although I think it was a conceptual trailer since the animation studio looked totally different and it shows events from the complete first season which is an odd choice. There were no glowing noses/ears there so I don’t know why they were added here. Perhaps this is how the art looks in the Webtoon and they wanted to be accurate but it just doesn’t work. I do like the chibi scenes when they occur though. I think Chibi works really well for quick humor bursts. We see similar techniques used in Tower of God and Demon Slayer to great effect as well.

The animation is great though. There’s a lot of finetuned hand to hand combat here. It’s easy to see how this company would then go on to do Jujutsu Kaisen later on. That show took this one’s fundamentals and then improved the animation with a lot of great energy effects and even more wrestling type moves. In a way you could say the studio used this anime to train and then mastered it with Kaisen. There are definitely no complaints with the animation here, the fights are all very high energy and get you in the moment. The shading on the darker moments also helps show the intensity of a scene very well.

I enjoyed the soundtrack a lot as well. The theme song is great and the more you listen to it, the more into it you get. It’s got a lot of replay value that’s for sure. The images for it are also hype. Then you have several great themes in the show like the Young Tiger theme as well as Mujin Park’s music. Each one helps to build up the hype and as this is completely a battle story, it’s not surprising that the music would be geared that way.

Now lets talk about the characters here. The main character is Mori Jin. He loves fighting and is trained in the arts of Taekwondo. Mori is very confident in his abilities and believes he can take on anyone. Winning the tournament is prize enough for him so he has no real wishes to be granted. He’s a nice guy who sometimes projects sob stories onto others but always does his best to help his friends.

Mori’s a pretty charismatic guy and I was definitely a fan. He’s quick to jump into the arena when a match is going too far and that’s something I was glad to see. Mira loses some points for trying to constantly tell her teammates not to jump in. It’s just the right thing to do. It goes against the spirit of the tournament to be torturing your opponent and for Mori I imagine it was especially personal since the villain was using Taekwondo.

The show doesn’t go into it a whole lot but I do like how each of the different hand to hand fighters use unique fighting styles here. You’ve got Karate masters, self defense, sword style, etc. Mori never falters throughout the whole season so he was a great lead from start to finish.

Then we have Mira who is one of the first characters to appear in the show. She doesn’t crave battle the way that Mori does but her sole goal in life is to get the Moonlight sword back into the spotlight. She wants to prove that this style is good and it was her father’s last wish. She will do whatever it takes to make the sword popular again which is a good and bad thing. The good thing is that it gives her drive and something to fight for.

The bad thing is that it limits her. She seems to fight a lot better without the sword most of the time. Her enemies seem to be able to use it with more skill than she does. Additionally it also sidetracks her from her goals like when she was quick to jump into a wedding with someone she didn’t even know. That was the weakest part of her character arc to be sure. How do you marry a random celebrity when you’ve known him for 5 minutes?

Mira was quick to throw her friends away at this point too so it’s good that they beat up the guards and forced the issue. Mira also doesn’t believe in interrupting matches as I mentioned before so that ends up hurting two. From the 3 characters she had the shakiest resolve to be sure, but she can fight and tends to do well in battle. Eventually maybe she can catch up to the other two if she masters her sword.

Then we have Daewi as the third member of the crew. He is fighting to save his friend who is currently dying. It’s a pretty rare condition so even the nanomachines that the GOH tourney providers have only may give him a chance. Daewi is the mature member of the 3 so he usually tries to calm the other two down or just stay out of the way so they don’t embarrass him. For the most part he’s a rather decent guy.

There is one point though where he loses it and very nearly becomes a villain. He beats up some random punks but they initiated so I don’t even count that to be honest. You can’t pretend to ignore them forever so take them out and that’s that. Now if he murdered them that’s different, but I didn’t necessarily get that impression. It’s hard to say though, I suppose they might have been dead.

Daewi even attacks Mira in rather savage fashion but I would say it’s in a completely different league than what Manseok did in the first episodes. Daewi didn’t torture her or anything, he landed a few solid blows and then she went down. Now, he was about to attack again before he was stopped which would have crossed the line but ultimately no extra hits were landed. Perhaps this is something where it’s more dragged out in the Webtoon but from the anime it doesn’t seem as shocking and savage as the characters acted.

I suppose you’d expect him to hold back more when fighting a friend and yet the characters always talk about how you better not hold back or they’ll take it personally. It might be an unspoken rule where you should still hold back I suppose. Regardless it wasn’t quite as crazy as you would expect so I didn’t lose a ton of respect for him the way I would if a character really turned traitor like that. It does mean he’ll likely never catch the top tiers of the series like Mori, Ilpyo, or Taek but he’s reasonably in the middle somewhere.

The resolution to the plot did feel a bit cheesy and perhaps unearned though. Mori was really mad at Daewi at first and then a few minutes later they’re back to being best friends. That part I will say felt rushed and it seems like they wouldn’t get along so easily like that. Additionally, I don’t see how Daewi was looking so good. Mori seemed to be way stronger but more on that later.

Ilpyo was easily the best character in the series though. I liked his confidence and he’s just a classy guy. Ilpyo felt like he would be the main character in another title. He has cool fire powers and even a nice super form that he can use at will. The guy’s hand to hand skills are completely out of almost every other character’s league. He misses the first half of the season but once he shows up at the end he gets a great role.

It’s clear that he would have beaten Mori if he wasn’t sandbagging to teach him the whole time and at full power I would have gone for him over Taek as well. That guy’s abilities are hard to deal with but the same is true for Ilpyo. I hope he gets a lot to do in season 2 as well because he’s just a blast to follow.

Then we have some of the various fighters from the tournament. First is Seungchul who likes to fight using intelligence and wit over brute strength. This makes him difficult to defeat although at the same time it doesn’t seem sustainable. At the end of the day you need pure power to back up your moves. Then there’s Gamdo who is a martial artist that likes fighting with honor.

Unfortunately he’s in the wrong tournament for that because these fighters are too desperate to win. They don’t have time for honor or things like that. I liked the guy but I feel like he may never appear again. Then you have Manseok who was surprisingly weak. Seriously the guy talks really tough and after getting embarrassed he breaks down into tears and never appears again.

I’m sure he will return but it’s going to be hard to take that guy seriously. He’s like a textbook bully who can take on weaker fighters no problem but ultimately gets outmatched by the stronger ones and doesn’t have the confidence to continue. I didn’t like that guy so I don’t mind him getting taken out. It was just really surprising.

Taek is one of the big villains of course so we have to talk about him. Now this is a villain I could get behind. He made for a great antagonist who kept on getting stronger and forced the heroes to keep up with him. Hi goals about wanting to be the strongest and proving that he wasn’t a loser was intense. The guy is whining a lot in a sense but he continues to get stronger on his own so at least he’s doing something about it.

His rivalry with Ilpyo just worked really well and was the best dynamic in the show. Whenever he was around you knew things were about to go down. The scene where he nearly took Mori down with a single strike was a very intense moment and was also good hype for Ilpyo. I also liked how he kept remembering how Ilpyo beat him up that one time. Shows why he wants revenge on everything. It’ll be hard to top him as the next arc villain.

Taejin is worth mentioning because he’ll clearly be getting a big role soon but this was not a very impressive start for him. He got beat up pretty quickly. Yes, he left big craters in the ground and looked strong but Mori could probably pull such things off by the end of the series with his impressive power ups. Taejin gets a ton of hype so to see him tied up and beaten so early on…it was surprising to say the least.

Then we have the tournament organizer Mujin. This guy’s pretty interesting right now. He’s clearly not a hero with how extreme his actions are at the moment. It’s strongly implied he’s the one who took out the island in episode 1 although we don’t know for sure. He’s searching for the Key and it doesn’t sound like this is for heroic reasons. Perhaps he is a hero who just seems shady at times but right now I see him being a very interesting third party character who keeps everyone at the ready.

It’s a shame he had to play defense for the whole season though as we couldn’t see what he could really do yet. The fact that he was able to put up barriers to block the giant summon from the villains was impressive though. The guy’s tough without a doubt but I want to see him in the ring. He has a bunch of members in his organization who are powerful as well but most don’t get to do a whole lot yet.

I expect we’ll see them all fight more soon. They beat up on the random monsters but anyone could do that. Q gets the biggest role as he shows a lot more emotion than the others. He gets upset when one of his comrades dies and even confronts Mujin. There’s a lot of life to this guy and he disregards procedure if it gets in the way. It costs him a lot of money each time but he doesn’t back down.

There are other characters running around here of course like in the tournament and assassins from the mysterious organization that is also trying to find the key. I won’t go into those guys because they haven’t done a whole lot yet. You’ll want to watch the show to see what they’re doing. I am pretty interested in how that will play out since it seems like that will be more of a focus in season 2.

While the tournament was the main plot there were definitely times where the outside world was more interesting. There’s just so much happening out there and I love tournaments but the other parts were so appealing too. It’ll be fun to see how the heroes contribute since in theory most of them are still weaker than the grown ups. Mori is probably an exception to that though.

The Power levels in the show could be rather suspect at times though. From the start Mori is portrayed as being so much stronger than Daewi and Mira that you can’t believe it when he is having an even fight with Daewi. Particularly since given the circumstances Mori shouldn’t be holding back and is going in hot to make Daewi regret attacking Mira. Somehow Daewi is not only holding his own but even winning at times. That didn’t make a lot of sense.

Then you have the celebrity who had his own Charyeok manifestation and yet he got knocked out in one blow. How? This guy is a part of a dangerous organization and had a lot of abilities. That didn’t make a lot of sense. Granted, in general Charyeok seems like a pretty vague power scaling system. Effectively you borrow power from some kind of legendary figure and turn that into power. One character uses Lu Bu for example while another one has Jaws. (Or just a random Shark) Then you have Mori who doesn’t need to borrow anything since there are other factors at play here. Way I understand it is Mori is the legendary figure, I won’t say who for now. It’s a pretty good way to explain why he is so strong.

Charyeok has a lot of different manifestations so the best way to think of it is just as a form of Ki and then you get any kind of special ability. I don’t see how you can lose with it so quickly though. Power levels aside, I do like how the characters just launch into the fights. A benefit of the fast pacing here is there’s no time for chitchat so often times the fighters just start swinging their fists and don’t stop. The opponents have to figure out each other’s abilities in silence. Nobody stops until one person is on the ground.

The God of High School may start out fairly realistic but it jumps up into superhero world by the end. The last episode or 2 in particular suddenly turn this into something like DBZ and I’m all up for that. It was a pretty powerful match-up at the end and the designs were really good for the powered up modes on the hero and villain.

Overall, The God of High School is a great anime that I would recommend. You won’t be disappointed here. It’s really over in a flash at only around 12-13 episodes but each one covers a lot. You’ll likely end the show with a ton of questions since it doesn’t mind opening up a lot of plot elements that don’t go anywhere yet. It’s why you just have to wait until it’s continued or check out the written version. You’ll get introduced to a lot of characters but I dare say you’ll actually remember most of them. They’re all fairly unique and have their own personalities. It may take a little while to fully learn the names but that will come in time. My only real gripe here is that I wish they would take away the Rudolph nose part of the art style. It just doesn’t fit so maybe in season 2 it’ll be cut. With this review done I’d say it’s a good time to check out the Webtoon and see how the adventure continues.

Overall 8/10

The Shadow Review


The Shadow isn’t exactly a household name so if you have no idea who this guy is, that’s fine. All you need to know is that he is basically Batman and lives in a city like Gotham. I liked how close this whole movie felt to being an unofficial Batman movie and it made the most of this. The writing is strong and the action is good. It’s just a pretty solid all around title with a lot of replay value.

Lamont started out as a bit of a villain himself. He used his wealth to really become a villainous leader the likes of which his city had never seen. This would likely disrupt the status quo so some ninjas kidnap Lamont and give him a choice. He can become a crime fighting superhero or they’ll murder him. Lamont very reluctantly agrees to these terms after he’s roughed up. Many years later he returns to the city under his new superhero name..The Shadow.

By day Lamont just enjoys his money and keeps a low profile, but by night he terrorized villains. Unlike most heroes he also starts up a network of allies using the people he saves. Effectively they owe their lives to him now so he says he will collect on favors from time to time. He’ll call up one of these guys to ask for intel or even sometimes just for a ride. It’s in your best interests to stays on this guy’s good side so people don’t really complain.

Unfortunately the world is about to be shaken up because Genghis Khan’s descendent Shiwan has returned. Honestly I thought that was Genghis the whole time but apparently he’s a descendent according to Wikipedia. I suppose he may have mentioned that like once in the whole movie but there’s not much difference in how you would imagine their characters to be. Shiwan is creating a bomb so he can take out the pesky humans. He has been trained by the League of Assassins (Close enough at least) just like Lamont so this won’t be an easy fight. It may be time to call in for some backup.

Right from the jump, The Shadow looks like a solid hero. I like how he is always laughing hysterically when he chases the villains. That’s definitely a good way to put the fear into them. After all, when you’re one of the villains then it sounds like you’re being hounded by someone who’s truly insane. It was rather dark and foggy during the opening action scene as well so it’s hard to know what’s going on.

Then you have Lamont’s super powers. First, he can use telepathy to mess with your mind. It’s like the Jedi Mind Trick, if he tells you to believe something then you’re going to believe it. There’s really no discussion or debate here, what the Shadow says goes. Then he can effectively turn invisible. Now this is likely related to the mind tricks as well. He causes you to see what he wants you to see.

He calls it “Clouding their minds” whenever he talks about his abilities. It’s like having nonstop illusions so there’s no way any human can even come close to taking him on. He’s quite impressive and it’s nice to see a superhero who really can hold his own. Back in these days you’d usually expect the hero to take a lot of L’s.

Another reason why the Shadow is good is because he talks a good game. The guy isn’t afraid of anyone and even talks tough to Shiwan. The Shadow just doesn’t back down. He doesn’t have a perfect record here as he does nearly go to a watery grave against someone who wasn’t all that powerful but for the most part he looks rather good here.

Then you have the main heroine Margo. She has telepathic abilities as well which is a solid counter to The Shadow. Unlike his mental clouding abilities where he has to proactively activate it to trick people, she can see directly into other people’s thoughts. It’s a passive ability so effectively it’s always on. For a man with a secret identity that’s a very risky proposition. Margo was a solid heroine though. She does her best to help out and the fact that she has powers allows her to do this a lot easier than a normal person would have been able to.

Shiwan is not very impressive as the main villain though. I was seriously not impressed. We know that he can fight given how much training he has, but surprisingly we don’t really get to see this. I was surprised by that at the very least because usually we would get a big fight in the climax. So he talked tough but I felt like he couldn’t quite live up to it which hurts him as a character tremendously.

The music throughout the film is also great. Get ready for a lot of tunes that sound like something out of the Batman 90’s show. It’s all really authentic and adds to the mystery surrounding the Shadow. Seriously if you just change the name to Batman, I think a lot of people wouldn’t even notice and this could be treated as a What If for Batman. The effects have also aged pretty well. I like how they handled all of the shadow fight scenes. The hand to hand in general is good as always.

Overall, The Shadow was better than I thought it would be. It’s a very solid all around title and does a lot of things in a rather unique way which separates it from the pack. Seeing Lamont constantly laughing the whole time for example was a genius decision. I don’t know if he does that in the comics as well, but it’s a good way to differentiate himself from the other heroes. Additionally, it just seems like it would be really effective. If you haven’t seen this title yet then I definitely recommend changing that. Any comic book movie or action fan won’t want to miss this.

Overall 7/10

Black Widow Review


Black Widow is a film that feels like it’s been in the works for ages. After the Avengers 2012 film there was already talk about a potential solo film. I know a lot of people wanted a whole film about Budapest, others wanted a prequel even further back in the red room. Ultimately we would finally get the solo film now, which takes place after Civil War. It’s a pretty good place to put this film in, I would say the only other area that would have worked would have been the multi-year gap between Infinity War and End Game.

The movie starts off with showing Natasha as a child where she grew up with her parents and younger sister. Their life was pleasant for a while but one day they had to suddenly sneak out and head back to base. Her life was thrown upside down and then she went to work as a Soviet agent until eventually she was able to break away into the Avengers. I would say this was the best way to handle her early childhood.

Personally I would say the film starts off slow. It doesn’t really pick up until we go to the present which is precisely why I never wanted a full prequel film about her childhood. It could be interesting to see her as an assassin and you could pull off a film like Salt but in general I’m always a lot more interested in seeing the present. Yes, this isn’t the exact present but it’s not too long ago. This way you still see scenes of her past without having a 2 hour experience about it which seems like a fair balance.

So the movie truly picks up with Widow on the run from the government after Civil War. Aside from Captain America, the rest of her team was already captured. Widow has had enough of this and intends to vanish forever into another life but suddenly gets thrown back into the fray when she is attacked by the Taskmaster. After suffering a complete defeat, she heads over to her sister Yelena for some answers. Turns out that the Red Room is still in operation so Widow is going to have to confront her old ghosts one more time.

The opening action scene with Taskmaster is definitely solid. Taskmaster gets to show off his good hand to hand skills and copy abilities from the comics and Natasha fights well as always although she is definitely out of her league in this battle and goes down quickly. It’s a good way of getting her back into the fold and effectively forcing her into the action. It also showed how she would still make the heroic call in the end such as when she went for the vials even though she had been looking forward to some down time.

Lets start with the film’s strong points. The action and effects are top notch as always. The hand to hand fights are on point and I like how the objects as used in combat. Taskmaster has his shield while Natasha uses whatever items she has on hand. The different locations all look really good and there are a lot of different environments here to be sure.

The soundtrack is also pretty good. We get some Russian opera styled music here during one of the opening montages and some classic action tunes. While I wouldn’t say any might be a complete standout, they work out well for the scenes that they’re in and help to enhance the moment.

Yelena is a great new addition to the universe. Historically I’ve always liked her a lot more than Natasha as the Black Widow. She tends to be more of an antagonist but I’m nowhere near close to being caught up with her character so maybe she is usually a good guy now. Either way she brings in a lot of the witty lines in the film. While it’s clear that Natasha is more skilled, she is also older than Yelena and got a lot of great experience with the Avengers. Give Yelena some time and she can catch up at some point.

Yelena loves poking fun at the other characters and it works really well for the dynamic here. She was definitely the standout character here. I also liked Natasha’s mother Melina. As a strategist she also has a lot of good plans and is integral when helping the other characters out. That said, she did have a really suspect scene involving a pig as well as the implications that this has. While they play the sympathy card a lot, I can’t see her as anything other than a complete villain.

There’s some good setup to the rest of the universe as well although this is squarely a Black Widow film. The after credits scene is pretty low key for the most part but the final part has a lot of solid implications for fights coming up. Lets just say that the person who is about to be hunted should be in a lot of trouble since I think he’s outmatched here. Maybe he’ll surprise me though. I’m not really feeling the new Nick Fury type character yet since I prefer his mysterious approach to the “fake friend” tactic this one likes to try. Still, should make for an interesting confrontation down the road.

Finally, I’ve always liked the concept of the rogue agent who goes back to their roots. It could be someone who used to be evil or just someone who needs to do an impossible task. It’s the very concept of Mission Impossible, but I’m thinking of more solo operations like Salt, Resident Evil, John Wick, and other titles like that. They can get rather intense but the story itself is always very compelling. The same goes for Black Widow as Natasha has to tap into her old skills which may be rusty at this point.

After all, as a kid even before growing up in the Red Room she was a tough fighter and even more so after completing her missions. As an Avenger she had to learn how to fight as a hero which means no lethal moves and as a result she couldn’t go all out anymore. Hawkeye even gave her a straight fight in the first Avengers film which likely wouldn’t happen in her prime. That said, with how easily she handled Yelena, it’s clear that growing rusty is not a problem in her case.

Black Widow is definitely in the top half of the Marvel Cinematic films. There are enough films now where it’s tough to rank them all but it’s squarely under the top tiers like the Avenger films but above all the Phase 1 titles (Not counting Avengers) and others scattered across the phases. It’s a great film and only the 6th 8 star film I’ve seen in 2021. There’s a lot to like here.

Now for the film’s weak points. I thought it went way too far in making the Red Guardian as useless and comedic as possible. Sure, his personality can be fun and some of his humor moments do land, but couldn’t he have looked good at least once? Strength is his whole thing but he fails in his break out scene, gets humiliated by Taskmaster, and ultimately doesn’t win a single battle. I’m not familiar with him in the comics so maybe he always gets wrecked but it felt a little overdone. He deserved at least one quality moment without the rest of the team constantly dunking on him.

I was also underwhelmed by Taskmaster. I wouldn’t say he was a bad villain, but…he’s just not Taskmaster. We’ve seen Marvel do this with several big villains like Mandarin and Ultron where they just don’t feel like their normal selves and this would have to be put into that category. The first red flag is when he doesn’t talk at all during his opening fight. Seems like a robot with no personality. I can get behind the costume being the weakest Taskmaster design yet since it’s passable but this guy just doesn’t feel like Taskmaster. Where’s the bragging, witty dialogue? I’m used to a fairly talkative Taskmaster.

His role is also a lot smaller than you’d expect so he doesn’t the time needed to look particularly impressive. You have 0 doubt that Captain America, Black Panther, Bucky, and a bunch of other hand to hand fighters would crush this version of him with ease. So he was on the disappointing side, good in a vacuum but I think they just should have called him something else and kept the Taskmaster title open for the future. Who knows, maybe there will be a twist and we’ll get another Taskmaster soon.

Now lets talk about Natasha, I was a little quiet about her in this review so far if you’ve noticed. Retroactively this movie really makes her character look shaky at times and downright bad at others. Now, you know a big part of the plot is that the red room is still around, but Natasha was super sure it was gone. So the film goes into why she thinks this is the case…and it makes her look a bit naïve.

She really didn’t do much inspecting to see if this was really the case. She went to extreme lengths in her quest for vengeance as well. Now you can put some blame on Shield and her partner for believing someone who just turned to their side without having someone else watching the situation but at its core this is Natasha’s issue. Characters make mistakes in their past and this was a long time ago…but it’s a rather huge mistake. The film will explain what I’m talking about here with her plan to destroy the red room but I’m keeping any specifics out for spoilers.

Even more egregious is the fact that afterwards she never actually tried to find Yelena or any of the others. This feels a little convenient since that would have also told her that something was going on. A lot of the film is about Natasha trying to correct her past and trying to be a better person now. It’s what she was talking about with her ledger being red a while back in the early Avenger films so we see exactly what she was talking about. I’ve never been a Black Widow fan and this film doesn’t help matters.

It’s part of why I was glad to see Yelena showing up since she’s always been more fun and this film keeps that up. Still, Natasha does do well in the fight scenes and still proves to be the critical character needed to stop the villains. Without her here there’s no way the others would have been okay. She’s started her first step on the redemption journey by finally thanking the guy who gets her all her equipment and tech. I felt bad for him the whole film so at least it’s a start because that guy deserves a lot of gratitude for always coming through.

That’s it for weaknesses. I mean, the main villain is pretty bad but he’s really a non factor here. The guy is just around since we need a head of the red room but that’s the extent of his room. He can’t fight and can only rely on Purple Man type powers to keep himself in the fight. It’s also another chance to make Black Widow look bad since you’d think she could resist this but I guess the powers of science cannot be defeated.

Costume-wise, I preferred Natasha’s outfit here to the usual Black Widow one. Granted, the old version is a lot more fitting to the title but I do like to have a change of pace once in a while so this was a really good way to flip things. Also, it worked well for the snow scenes. I missed the sky fall gunfight scene from the trailer though. I wonder if it was made only for the trailer or if it got so much bad press about the bullet dodging physics that they just scrapped it. I hope it’s the former because it’s still a great concept for a scene and would have worked really well at the end. Maybe just tweak the scene a bit to show her dodging but then we’re good.

Ultimately my favorite action scene in the film was the opening battle with Taskmaster. Part of why it’s so effective is because of how sudden it is. Taskmaster just appears out of nowhere and starts the fight right away. If not for the fact that he can only focus on his objective, Natasha would have been completely finished off there. The match has a lot of tension and the night time background works well since it feels like there is absolutely no backup. If Natasha were to die here, it would be easy to cover up and even the Avengers may be at a loss.

Widow was also caught off guard so it’s not like she had her gear. You really see how tough a hero is when they just have to fight as they are. You think of moments like Steve being attacked at his home by Winter Soldier, Tony’s house being attacked in Iron Man 3, or Catwoman breaking into Bruce Wayne’s house in Dark Knight Rising. Usually the hero is caught flat footed and gets wrecked but when they’re able to put up a good fight you gain a lot of respect for their survival instincts. I’ll give Natasha credit here, she did put up a good fight even with no prep time despite the combat disadvantage.

The writing is really on point as well. While the Red Guardian may be the comic relief character of the film, I thought Yelena had all the best jokes and funny one liners. The conversation about how Natasha is always posing before and during her fights was fun. Yelena even gives it a shot on her own at one point and the fact that the pose is immediately recognizable does support her point there. Whenever she is around you can expect a lot of fun dialogue. You do get a very genuine feeling from the Guardian in his lines too but I don’t believe his talk about Captain America. He would get folded like an old lawn chair if he tried to defeat Steve. The other characters could have probably cut him some slack since he’s been trapped in jail all this time though.

Overall, Black Widow’s definitely a great film. It’s may have the slowest start to an MCU film but really turns up once we get to the present when she’s trying to evade Ross. That’s when the film gets great and then it keeps up that momentum the rest of the way. The action is on point and as always Marvel has a ton of great backgrounds and environments to fight in. The film may be 2 hours long but it really ends in a flash. You won’t even notice the time and it’s a title you can safely recommend even to people who have not seen the other Marvel titles since her story is fairly stand alone.

Overall 8/10

Con Air Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.

Con Air is one of those films where a whole lot has to go just perfect for the villains to even have a chance at kicking things off. While you will have to suspend some disbelief, I suppose the idea is that 99% of the time this fails so the film is about the one time that things do work out for them. It’s a good movie that I can’t help but feel could have been even better.

The movie starts with Cameron finally back home from the army and ready to have a good time with his wife and future kid. Unfortunately he is attacked by 3 hooligans and ends up murdering one of them in self defense. Despite this obviously being the only course of action available at the time, he is close to 10 years. Seriously? That definitely seems pretty iffy considering that his only other course of action would have been to die. Stopping these guys without accidentally murdering them would be incredibly difficult.

Well, the years pass and Cameron is finally about ready to be released. Unfortunately the government wants to save a few bucks so they’re going to put him on the jet that will be storing all of the max criminals on it. They don’t trust their own guys with any guns so there is only one that is located in the pilot room and some weapons on the basement level. All of the criminals are handcuffed so they figure that it’s all good. What could go wrong right?

Well, unfortunately the crew handles this really poorly. They let the criminals take control of the plane almost immediately and fall for every trick in the book. They’re overwhelmed with ease and now Cameron is stuck on the plane with these guys. He’s really trying to get home to his daughter before it’s too late but he knows that first he has a job to do. He can’t turn his back and let these criminals go free.

Initially I thought this might be a film where Cameron is knocking off the criminals one by one to thin out the herd before making his move. Instead it’s more about lying low and trying to get word out to the proper authorities. Of course, Cameron does do his share of big damage by taking out several of his opponents.

Cameron’s definitely a great main character. At the end of the day he’s a hero who does his best to try and save the day even when it would have been easier to leave. Especially once one of the prisoners ends up getting really sick because he needs his insulin shot. Cameron won’t leave without helping him out and it’s lucky for the heroes since they would have been absolutely doomed without him.

As a side note, the accent may be trying a little too hard but it’s fun. Half the time it just felt like Cameron was being sarcastic to everyone rather than him actually having the accent. This kind of action hero just doesn’t get old and since we had the intro scene as a way to know just how tough he is, it’s not surprising when Cameron keeps on taking his opponents down.

Of course a lot of these guys are absolutely terrible characters. It may be expected and even intentional since they’re villains but it immediately lowers the odds of good character banter. You’ve got Johnny who is just a disgraceful character. Any scene with him is painful. You’ve got Pinball who doesn’t have much personality beyond the fact that he definitely wasted too much time chatting which cost him big time. Earl doesn’t show up until the second half but I suppose he was a lot more interesting than some of the other villains. The fact that he could pilot the ship was also very convenient. Without him there the villains would have been in for a tougher time.

The main villain here would be Cyrus. He’s the leader of the crew and the one who comes up with the big plan. The other villains definitely fear him as he has quite the reputation. That said, at this point it’s not like any of them are master fighters or anything so I wouldn’t necessarily say that any of the villains look all that tough. Cyrus talks tough but that’s about it. Same with Diamond Dog. The whole time you’re waiting for him to do something or attack Cyrus but it doesn’t really play out that way.

The villain who got the most hype throughout the film was a guy called Garland. He’s supposed to be the worst of the worst which is where the film builds some of its tension from. I would have cut him out entirely though. Most of his scenes are to build up some tension as we know what a bad guy he is and then he finds a kid unattended. The film knows exactly what it’s doing with all the long drawn out shots with these two characters and it definitely needed to tread carefully.

I have to say if anything happened to the kid the film was going to lose major stars because it’s just such an unnecessarily dark avenue to go down. It’s no exaggeration to say that the film avoided utter disaster by not having things go badly there. Still, there’s no reason to have Garland around so I would have definitely cut him off the team.

As for the other humans, well you’ve got Duncan who handled everything really badly. The guy is an agent who was sent on board to try and get some intel out of one of the prisoners. The whole idea was extremely suspect from the start though and it’s hard to picture it working. Still, the guy has a gun so he should be ready but he takes it out immediately and then panics. Look, in this situation where you’re effectively surrounded you have to use the gun if you take it out. There’s no time to play chicken or talk tough with the villains.

This guy didn’t feel very professional. Vince is his boss and that guy’s pretty entertaining. He’s certainly very eager to always blow stuff up but I suppose that strategy has worked out well for him thus far. He gets into a lot of arguments with Mike on how to handle things so expect a lot of banter there. Those are some of the more enjoyable parts of the movie though so it was good to see them. Neither one of them were particularly impressive though and didn’t help much.

Cameron’s really on his own here no matter how you slice it. The film has a lot of solid action and get ready for a ton of explosions. You’ll be feeling bad for the army the whole time though as it seems like they really can’t catch a break here. The villains are blowing up their cars left and right. I like to think that proper military strategy is never this awful in real life because in films it makes the strategist look awful.

The military literally walks in a straight line to where the villains are. Naturally they keep getting blown up and picked off. Surely someone would have said that this was a bad idea right? So it’s not a case of the villains looking smart but the heroes just looking terrible. There has to be a better way to assault a heavily armed villain base than to walk in a straight line like that.

Overall, Con Air is definitely an intense film. It’s got a good hero and good writing to keep it on the positive path. It would have been nice if the villains weren’t all so edgy the whole time though. The only decent one appeared to be Mike. Now, this is a bunch of max prison offenders so of course they would be the worst of the worst but it’d be nice if they at least acted normal at times. Instead you just keep agreeing with Cameron’s one liners about how this was an awful plan from the start. Once he gets on the plane there aren’t really many times for breaks so get ready for a whole lot of action scenes. If you want a pretty entertaining film about hijacking then this is a good one to check out.

Overall 6/10

Samurai Warriors 3 Review


Playing a beat em up type game on the Wii certainly feels rather odd. It’s not really a Wii kind of game and so I always tend to play these on the PS3/PS4 but that wasn’t an option this time. Well, the game is as great as always. It can take a little time to get used to the controller layout but once you have got that down then the rest of the game is effectively like the others. You shouldn’t have any problems with it.

The story mode is a little different than some of the other titles in that it is centered around a specific character as opposed to the kingdom. So you have a lot of options on who to make the lead and then you get a story tailored to that fighter. It’s a nice touch and I have to assume that it’s a lot more work since way since there are a bunch of stories so kudos to the developers on that. There are 5 story levels for each character.

It took me around 2-2.5 hours to clear the story so the level length is nothing to sneeze at. The final level also gets tricky so you will want to be careful. Of course you can switch the game’s difficulty back down to easy if needed. The final level has a trick to it so it’s hard not to die the first time but then you’re ready for the inevitable rematch. In each of the levels you have a pack of items with you that do things like increase your strength, defense, or just plain healing items.

Personally I always recommend going for the healing pack. It can effectively replenish your health bar 6 times over which is really handy since Samurai Warriors doesn’t have health items just hanging out on the map or anything like that. So the levels are easy initially because you can just heal your way to the goal. Well, the final level changes that up. Suddenly you are unable to use your healing items near the end. You then have to clear a quick gauntlet of bosses.

I can safely say this is where I lost the first time. It’s difficult to beat so many enemies without being able to heal. On the second go around I made sure to use a potion right before they got deactivated but I was still running out of health fast. It was pretty intense but I just had to survive with a single smidge of health left as I challenged a bunch of different opponents. Finally I got a level up which automatically restores all health. I don’t know what I could have done without that. So it’s hard to time but if you’re having trouble on this level just beat a ton of minions until you’re close to a level up before starting the fire which triggers your items not working anymore.

As for the gameplay, it’s your classic beat em up style. You have your standard attacks, power moves, and your super attack. One new thing here is the guard break which you can use at the expense of one energy orb and break through an enemy’s defense. This will actually be the most important move you have in the entire game so make sure you use it a lot. It’s also an absolutely surefire way to stop their ultimate attack midway. There aren’t really any downsides to the shield poke either so why not use it right?

The gameplay is noticeably slower than Dynasty Warriors but that might be intentional. I seem to recall that being the case for the last one as well so maybe it’s a way to make the titles stand out as being different from each other. It’s fair since you don’t want all of the games to be clones after all. Most of the other parts of the game are all as you would remember them. The final smashes can all be blocked by the A.I. and usually are though so I’d like them to get buffed in the sequel. As it stands, it’s often better to use your standard attacks than the final smash which doesn’t make sense.

There’s a side mission here where you have to invade castles with Takamaru. It’s a fun little side mode and does well in adding more replay value to the mix. I completed the first world for now before calling it a day. I like the fact that it effectively turns this into a crossover series right out of the jump. They should bring Takamaru along into one of the games at some point as a fully playable character. Maybe he’s in that Warriors All Stars game.

With each story mode taking around 2 hours you’re talking about around 20 hours of content right out of the gate. Then you have the castle mode which will add some time and even a historical mode. Through in the multiplayer and maxing out the rest of the characters and you’ve got yourself a really long game. It goes for really cheap at the moment so it’s a really good bargain. You definitely can’t go wrong here.

The graphics look really good as you would expect. The character models and stage environments are on point. There are a number of solid looking cutscenes throughout that really help to make this a compelling experience. In some ways you could say it even looks better than the modern Dynasty Warrior titles which is very impressive. The story was more emotional that’s for sure, at least in Yukimura’s story. While the OST may not be super memorable, I would also say it was good. The main theme is catchy and you have a lot of fast paced tunes for while you’re fighting.

Overall, Samurai Warriors 3 is definitely a game I would strongly recommend. It’s really got everything you could want in a beat em up title from lots of content to a satisfying story. The layouts are all very clear and the game has no real weaknesses. I definitely look forward to seeing how 4 plays things out. Will it be just as solid or perhaps even more so? In the meantime you’ll want to pick this game up to prepare yourself.

Overall 8/10

Demon Slayer: Mugen Train Review


Demon Slayer certainly became a global sensation. When the anime launched it was appearing everywhere and so it’s only natural that a movie sequel by UFotable would continue to get a ton of press and box office. This movie adapts the train arc which is certainly one of the strongest parts of the series. It’s the first time we get to see a Hashira fight seriously which is a pretty big deal. It also works really well as a movie so it was a good pick by the company.

Picking up where the series left off, Tanjiro, Inosuke, and Zenitsu are boarding the Mugen Train. They are to team up with the Hashira known as Rengoku to stop the demons that are on the train. People have been going missing left and right on the train and the slayers sent previously have all been vanquished. Tanjiro and the others may still be newcomers to the organization but they have proven themselves in battle. They are ready to conquer this train.

Unsurprisingly Rengoku is the one doing most of the heavy lifting though. He is a Hashira for a reason and Demon Slayer has a pretty solid power level setup going for it. In fact, when paired up with most of its Shonen Jump companions you could make a strong case for this being one of the best in terms of the power levels making a lot of sense. It’s a strong point for Demon Slayer and never for a moment does it looks like the rest of the characters are competing with Rengoku. He is definitely the star of the show here.

I like Giyu a lot and he’s the only rival to Rengoku in terms of being my favorite Hashira but ultimately I would say Rengoku definitely wins this. He’s a very earnest guy and his flame abilities are incredible. I would go as far as to say he’s the strongest member of the group in terms of base abilities, so no red swords. He has tremendous speed and in the movie we see how difficult it is to protect one car and yet he was protecting 5. He has a pretty emotional backstory and never gets tempted by the demons.

Still, while Rengoku has a lot of screen time I would say this is still Tanjiro’s movie. He is forced to confront his past and the idea of an alternate reality. It’s never easy to leave such a dream but he does it rather well. It’s also just pretty painful in general to leave even knowing how you do it but the guy is resolute. Tanjiro’s always had a lot of determination after all. His fight with the demon may be quick but it’s a solid action scene all the same.

Then you have Inosuke who looks good as expected. He’s confident in his abilities and gets a good tag team with Tanjiro. His inner dream is also the most amusing out of the 3 which reflects his inner mind rather well. Zenitsu gets the shaft from the 3 which may surprise some fans since you would figure that a movie where the heroes are constantly in a dream-like state would be to his advantage. In some ways it is as he couldn’t protect Nezuko nearly as well while awake but his action is mainly off screen.

Enmu is the main villain here. He’s not really much of a fighter in close quarters combat which is why he has the whole train scheme. If you put everyone to sleep then perhaps you can end up winning without having to go through all of the trouble of fighting. I do think he overthinks it to an extent though. Due to how it’s hard to wake up in general and it takes a while, I think the easiest thing to do would just be to stab the slayers as soon as they’re asleep. The plan with the kids was decent and apparently it works a lot but it feels like a lot of work.

Enmu isn’t quite as solid as a lot of the other demons in Muzan’s ranks though. I never became a big fan of his personally. His abilities are unique to be sure and he does have some quality dialogue but that’s about all I can say for him. In true movie fashion his super form is pretty much just a giant blob that can’t fight back. So those action scenes while well animated don’t quite hold up to the rest. Give me the opening action scenes against the random demons anytime. Akaza also looks great in his appearance and already cemented himself as the greatest villain in the series by this point. The guy really enjoys battling and even has a bit of an honor code about him as he tries to get the heroes to his level as well. You definitely have to respect the commitment.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a Ufotable film without some kind of insane action sequence. The fun part is that pretty much any chunk of the film could be used as a great display of animation. Even the “standard” fights of the movie look great which is to be expected. I still have Ufotable as the best pure animation company in the biz right now. Their shows just look incredible. My favorite will always be Pierot but in a 1 on 1 contest the smart money would be on Ufotable to win. The final battle looks incredible. The colors are striking and you can tell it’ll be years before anime are able to churn out fights like this on the regular.

It was just an excellent way to wrap up the adventure. Mugen Train is one of those films that is fairly long but certainly doesn’t feel like it. The movie just keeps going from scene to scene with an engaging story so it never drags. There are some pretty tense moments as well like the conductor punching in all of the tickets which works really well. The soundtrack is very good. It’s definitely got a Fate vibe to it which always works really well with the animation style. It’s got a grand feel to it and ups the anticipation/hype of every moment. There are some themes from the show but also some new ones to be sure so there’s a good mix there.

The movie isn’t nearly as violent as the show which also works well for making this a big theater experience. The most blood is probably when the characters are slashing at the blobs which is certainly the weakest part of the film since these blobs can’t do anything but for the most part the film is ready to just jump straight into the action. I wouldn’t say there are any real weaknesses to the title. I suppose if this had been the true climax that would have been really underwhelming but fortunately we got to end with something spectacular.

Overall, Mugen Train is definitely a great film. It’s got top tier animation and music at the ready along with a great cast of characters. Every scene with Rengoku is really a great moment. His self preservation instinct is really on point and the guy also feels like a natural leader. His very presence instills confidence in anyone who’s around him. Most likely you’ll already know about the true final act by the time you watch the film but if you don’t that’s probably a good thing because it’s one of the best cinematic twists of all time. It’s something that really pushes the film to the next level and I would consider this part of the movie an absolute necessity. Whether you’ve watched the anime or not you should be able to jump into this film and have a good time with it. I’d definitely recommend giving it whirl and now we’ll see when the next film comes out.

Overall 8/10

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.

Wick returns for another big adventure. The second film had a terrific cliffhanger to lead up to this one and the third film makes sure to capitalize on the concept and even throw in another cliffhanger. Ultimately I would say the 2nd film is still the definitive one because it really got to go all out with Wick taking on all challengers. This one is pretty close though.

So last time a bounty was put on Wick’s head since he ended up taking someone out while at the Continental hotel which is against the rules set by the high table. Now he has to try and survive while the entire planet is after him. The bounty on his head is also rather high so he doesn’t have many people to turn too. He’ll have to try and get the high table to remove the bounty and the only way to get an ally is to use his once in a lifetime contract coin.

Let’s talk about some aspects where the film actually even beast film 2 but also the reasons why it lost. For starters, I would say the fights may have even passed film two’s. It’s close but the highs of this film have to be the best with the ninja fights. Wick taking on the ninja masters at the end was very impressive and made for a lot of hype moments. The fact that the ninjas actually defeated him a few times was also very impressive. It showed that they were above the usual thugs.

The main ninja was also a terrific opponent. He was a fun character as well. Wick certainly hasn’t lost a step that’s for sure and he may very well be the most impressive human fighter in this kind of film. It’s hard to see almost anyone stopping him. At this point John is already very weakened and yet he’s still going around taking out all challengers.

That ties into the aspect that’s weaker than the second film though. We get a lot more non Wick scenes as well. There’s the new heroine who gets to fight, we have ninjas taking out all of the other big factions, and the whole time you’re just waiting to see Wick fight again. The whole desert side quest felt like it was a break from the usual setting of Wick being in New York and taking everyone down.

John Wick 3’s best scenes are at the very beginning as we close up the cliffhanger from the second film and the very ending as he fights off waves of opponents from the table and the ninja. So it’s the middle that feels like it’s more fluff than anything and could have been condensed a bit. It’s a change of scenery but when your backdrop is New York you never really need to leave. Those scenes always look quite incredible with the special effects and atmosphere.

There’s not a whole lot to say about John Wick that I haven’t already gone into during the first two films. He’s a great lead who gets the job done and has a lot of good character development. He goes through a lot and just never goes down. The guy’s resolve is really something else.

Sofia is one of the new characters introduced in the film but I definitely didn’t like her. Her final scene involving a water bottle is just so petty and disgusting. I feel like Wick should have just stolen her truck right then and there. She can fight well and gets some extended fights with her dogs. The film got into some rather dangerous territory by having the dogs around but this time at least the film didn’t make a big mistake. The dog getting shot was still pretty bad but at least he lived and was able to get up and fight afterwards with the jacket.

Wick telling Sofia not to murder the guy was pretty bad advice though considering the entire plot of the first film. Additionally, we then get a long action sequence where they literally murder every minion on the base. At that point you may as well murder the leader too right? Why should he be the only one to survive this ordeal? Either way I’d rather Sofia not return in the sequel but if she does, I’d say Wick will be ready for her. Part of why I hope she doesn’t return is because it’s all too risky as long as she owns those dogs. I don’t want to take a chance on any of them getting injured and if they’re fighting Wick to the death that’ll be tricky. Additionally while their fights are very different, I did not enjoy them nearly as much as the human fights. It’s all portrayed extremely violently as they bite the enemies where it hurts. It’s an effective strategy sure but instead of being hype it makes the fights rather hard to look at.

Winston gets a pretty big role here as the owner of the hotel. He gets to look rather tough the whole time even if he talks a great game despite not actually doing much of anything. The guy definitely likes to stay in the shadows and command from there. Charon is also a really fun character as always. He has a good dynamic with Wick that’s for sure and he actually goes into the field to fight which also raises his character in my eyes.

The Bowery King returns from the last film and he’s still got a lot of confidence here. Perhaps he should have prepared himself more for the fight with the High Table but I guess a King’s folly is often his overconfidence. There’s also a Russian group that shows up here who have a role to play. This film really shows off just how many different villain groups are operating in New York.

Part of the plot here is that the High Table is finally stepping in since there’s so much chaos going on. At the very least you have to say that they’re quite bold since they pick fights with every single faction in the film. Naturally all of these guys try to fight back but they have a group of ninjas led by Zero who are ready for anything. The ninja make short work out of all the groups which is also impressive.

The Adjudicator sent out to make the warnings doesn’t seem like she can fight a whole lot though. You’d think that her confidence would be her downfall but nobody ever bothers actually trying to shoot her which is very fortunate for her safety. The high table makes for a pretty interesting villain so we’ll see how that goes. It’s definitely a dynamic I haven’t seen in a long time where a villain group suddenly shows up cleaning the board of heroes and villains alike.

Zero also has to be the best main villain in the series. He gets a lot of fun dialogue during his battle with Wick. While the guy seems to like Wick as a good rival, the feeling isn’t mutual. It’s hard to blame Wick for being cold though since the guy is actively trying to murder him. Wick had more fun fighting the guy’s two subordinates, perhaps because they really fought cleanly from the start. The whole climax in the mirror world was pretty exciting.

As always the Wick films contain as much violence as they do action though. The characters go down in rather painful ways and the High Table introduces some punishment for most of the characters as well. Characters are forced to lose limbs in service to the high table or get slashed to bits. The poor henchmen don’t stand a chance against the ninja’s blades and of course Wick isn’t holding back either. The body count is massive and the series still has a much more realistic vibe than most so it’s not like this is stylized to avoid the blood.

The fight choreography is still incredibly impressive down to the fact that Wick has to reload his guns and plan things out accordingly. Each fight really holds up. Still, you’ll need a good stomach for violence in these fights. One character goes down rather painfully to a book, but that’s why you shouldn’t try to bend the rules.

The music is quite fun as always. There are a lot of really solid themes throughout the movie that help you feel the intensity of the moment. Again, you really can’t top the opening scene. I wouldn’t say that rain is always good to have around but it’s perfect for tense scenes like the opening where Wick is trying to get away from all of the possible hitmen. Any and everyone can be against him after all so it’s not easy to stay safe. I wouldn’t have minded if that was really the whole film either.

Of course the ending does leave a lot of interesting room for the sequel. I would say some characters definitely made a mistake with how they handled things and Wick is definitely going to make them regret it. 3 films in and people still insist on challenging the guy. I guess some characters never learn.

Overall, John Wick 3 definitely continues the series by reinforcing what everyone likes about it so much. It’s certainly a very interesting journey with a lot of good writing and intense action. It would be so perfect if they could just tone down the violence. You could certainly do that even while keeping the fights realistic by changing camera angles or stylizing things a bit. Hopefully the series continues with having hype cliffhangers at the end because these really hold up in getting you psyched to see what happens next.

Overall 4/10

John Wick: Chapter 2 Review

This review is of the TV-14 edited version. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.

Time for the big return of John Wick. It’s been quite a while since I saw the first film. Naturally that one ended up losing pretty badly in the score department since the very concept of the film revolves around a dog death which is no good. You can’t succeed that way. This film doesn’t go in that direction so it ends up being quite a bit better. It still likes to go super extreme in what’s going on but I can safely say that it wins in just about every way.

The movie picks up with Wick murdering the last guys in his way and getting his car back. Now he can officially retire once and for all. Unfortunately it looks like this won’t be so easy. His old ally Santino shows up along with the pact that they made a long time ago. Effectively this means that Wick has to help the guy accomplish one task. If Wick tries to flee or murder Santino this would cause him to be a wanted man by the hotel and would trigger a bounty on his head from around the world. Thus Wick has to accept the task which is to murder Santino’s sister. Santino may be safe now but as soon as the contract is complete, Wick is free to do as he pleases.

The franchise differentiated itself from the start with its solid world building. First of all, I like how the hotel has its rules in place. You can use it as a sanctuary for as long as you like and there is to be no violence there. It’s a true safehouse. Then there are the pacts which cannot be broken or you will be murdered as well. Effectively the world of hitmen actually has some sense and reason here which is nice. Even the villains do well to remember that.

John may not be as personally invested as he was in the first film, however he’s just as intense as ever. The guy takes down dozens and dozens of opponents throughout the film. He is usually known for having the highest body count among the shooters and it shows. He really doesn’t take prisoners and always makes sure his opponent is truly down for the count. He’s a no nonsense main character and his reputation precedes him.

It’s fair to say that he’s just a great main character. Part of the fun with him is the fact that we don’t know a whole lot about his past. I’m actually hoping the films don’t change that later on because the mystery is part of the appeal. He knows everyone and clearly he used to complete a lot of missions on the regular. We don’t need to see those days because it keeps the illusion of him being an invincible shooting machine.

Now he does get injured during the film of course but he always gets back up. With the sheer volume of people he is taking out left and right, he may as well be invincible. The guy is pretty much living out a real life Call of Duty campaign. The film does a great job with showing how he plans things out during the fights as well. Wick is proficient at close quarters hand to hand combat, using a knife, and of course is an expert with a gun. He uses all of those skills depending on the circumstances.

Santiago is the main villain here but he’s never a threat in a fight. The guy’s only chance at winning is that he has a ton of armed minions at the ready. 1 on 1 the series has yet to produce anyone who can take on Wick. The closest is Cassian who has 2 very close battles with Wick. Keep in mind that in both cases John was already weakened but the guy’s talent was still better than most if not all of the other fighters here.

Ares was also a tough fighter. She’s a silent assassin who gives Wick a good fight. You never think she is quite in the same league as Cassian but her skills are real and she was a loyal retainer. Definitely a good bodyguard to have at the ready for all circumstances. There are a ton of other assassins but those two definitely had the biggest role. Beyond that the others exist to get utterly crushed by Wick’s skills.

The soundtrack is pretty solid as well. This is one area where the first film has the edge though as it played some really intense themes particularly when Wick first came out of retirement. This one still has a solid array of action tunes though so anytime there is a gunfight you can expect to hear a lot of good tracks. The action never lets up so even though the film is fairly long you won’t get bored.

The writing is really on point with a lot of solid lines between all of the characters. It’s part of why the cast works so well since a lot of thought went into this picture. The ending also directly leads into film 3 and ends on a rather intense note. It’ll be difficult for any of the other installments to beat this one’s ending since it was really perfect. This is the right way to build up the suspense.

While there is no animal violence, the film definitely does still go all out the whole time. Pretty much every villain is shot in the head and you see all the details to add to the realism. These fights feel like real battles that’s for sure and so there is a ton of blood at all times. It’s less stylized than other titles to really show the impact of the hits. Then you have Wick’s pencil kills which were foreshadowed early in the film so you knew they would show up at some point. It may be the most brutal kill although the film has a lot of those so it’s hard to say. One guy gets slashed in the worst area possible so I was shocked that he was still able to fight before Wick just shot him.

It’s not quite Resident Evil/Underworld levels of violence but it is definitely rather graphic and also nonstop. He probably murders 100 guys by the end of the film and each one just ends up getting shot through. One death that wasn’t through a shot but was still rather violent was a lady who bleeds out in the pool. There’s some context to this one which I won’t say for spoilers but it was the weakest scene in the film. Certainly a unique way to go out, there’s no question on that. But a normal shot or something would have definitely worked a lot better.

I have to say, considering Wick’s reputation I’m surprised that so many random guys want to try and take him out. You’d think that these hitmen would value their lives more and just stay out of his way. Is 7 million really worth throwing your life away? Most of these guys should know that they’re absolutely outmatched and outgunned from the start. They should have just stayed at the hotel if anything. Honestly, if you’ve made enough money to retire that is the safest place in the city. Just stay there forever and enjoy the food while you can. It’s the perfect plan.

Overall, John Wick 2 is a solid improvement from the first title. The action scenes are on point and I like some of the design choices like showing the subtitles in colorful words when the characters talk in Russian or other times in Sign language. The visuals are really solid both in the fights and even just when exploring the city. The opening drive from before the credits was a good example of this. The story is solid and the whole setting is just build up really well. If you could tone down/stylize the violence a bit more this one would even be able to join the great leagues. If you’re up for a ton of nonstop action then this is definitely a title you’ll want to check out.

Overall 5/10